Persuadable Iowans Know Every Penny Counts

folder_openResearch, Toolkit

Pocketbook message and lessons based on in-state qualitative research

WHAT TO SAY: No matter what Iowans do for a living – nurses, farmers, small business owners – we work hard to help our communities and take care of our families. But paychecks aren’t keeping up with prices. The futures we saw for our families are out of reach. Some of us can hardly afford housing and groceries, and we worry our kids won’t have the same opportunities we had. We need leaders who care about our whole lives. Leaders who work to grow the economy by raising incomes and lowering costs. Leaders who give working people the tools and fair chance needed to build a good life. [INSERT  LEADER] is standing up to the wealthy corporations raising prices while making record profits and protecting our freedoms and schools, improving clean air and water, and rebuilding roads and bridges. They know we need to increase competition to protect American workers, consumers and small businesses. We’re proud of our work and [INSERT  LEADER] knows we deserve the respect and rewards our contributions are worth. 

WHY WE SAY IT: Persuadable Iowans are unsure about Biden and tired of politics. Financial strain is hitting them hard. Most value compassion and equality, followed by merit and achievement. Many respond well to emotional appeals and are a mix of folks who don’t pay attention to politics or are fed up with them. They don’t trust politicians. They do trust health providers and small businesses. 

Messages that speak to compassion and equality will reach more than half this audience. We can reach even more if we recognize what their values have in common, and discuss their shared motivations. A huge majority said helping others drives their decision making. 

RESEARCH ABOUT PERSUADABLE IOWANS: 55% of Iowa voters have soft views on President Biden. These persuadable Iowans are overwhelmingly concerned with bills. Costs are out of control. Stability is out of reach. Paychecks can’t keep up with mortgage, rent, utility, grocery and internet bills.

In addition, they’re stressed over the health of family members and the cost and accessibility of healthcare. They worry their kids and grandkids won’t have opportunities where they live. Persuadable Iowans want leaders to build and grow their communities. From fixing roads and bridges to improving healthcare access and costs. They want parks, safe roads, clean air and water, good schools, medical providers and paychecks that meet their needs. 

PERSUADABLE IOWANS UNSURE ABOUT PRESIDENT BIDEN: Some are hopeful, others indifferent or frustrated. All are unsure about him. 

SHARED BELIEFS & CONVERSATIONS: Shared values and motivations will help reach persuadable voters and motivate them to act with us on issues we care about.

EQUALITY: Call for acceptance with themes of inclusion and equal opportunity/fairness.

COMPASSION: Take on themes of kindness. Help, accept, welcome and include others.

MERIT: Demand rewarding workers, for their sacrifice, grit or excelling in their chosen field.

ENVIRONMENTALISM: Call to preserve natural history, the outdoors, clean air and water. 

ACHIEVEMENT: Show how an outcome brings about success, or appeal to high standards. 

POWER: Appeal to your audience’s high standards. Call on their influence to create change. 

EMOTIONALITY: Connect with your audience’s emotions – hope for the future, fears around finances and healthcare, worries about safety and kids, joy and pride in a great education. 


  • Focus on value-based messages, tap into compassion, equality and merit.
  • Lift up working people who aren’t getting a fair shot or the pay they’re owed.
  • Utilize the corporate greed to frame the opposition and the Race Class Narrative to unite people and combat division and disinformation.
  • Empathize with your audience 
  • Use trusted messengers – small business owners, doctors and nurses – as validators, protagonists and messengers. 


Persuadables on the left and in the middle both prioritize compassion as a value. They desire to take care of those who are vulnerable whether or not they’re in the same family, group or community. They’re often charitable and respond to compassion for others. 

Persuadables on the left and in the middle rank high on equality, with hope for a level playing field in society. Restructuring government and society to give all a fair shot in life regardless of their background is important to them. 

Merit is a top value for persuadables right of center. They value fairness and proportionality – rewarding people based on the job they’ve done, or how much work they’ve put into something regardless of their needs or backgrounds. These folks value hard work and tend to take offense at people they see as asking to be rewarded without doing their fair share. They generally believe inequality is caused by differences in merit, and so it’s fair. 

Spokespeople & Validators – Persuadable Iowans trust doctors and nurses, small businesses and owners, teachers, police and academics. They do not trust Congress, politicians in either party, Wall Street, or wealthy corporations. 

Iowans are overwhelmingly concerned about the economy and their financial wellbeing. In response to what they’re concerned about, Iowans repeatedly answered: money. They are concerned about their pay, the cost of groceries, repairing their homes and cars, the cost of healthcare and raising their kids. 

Government & Community Improvement – Persuadable Iowans think the government’s job is to improve roads and bridges, the economy, and access to healthcare. Policies they support include fixing the economy and jobs, addressing healthcare costs and access, and gun control. 

Persuadable Iowans think leaders should be focused on healthcare costs, the economy and crime. In their communities, in  addition to improved roads and basic infrastructure, they want a better cost of living, clean water, parks and things for young people to do, businesses that generate jobs and activities. They also want people in their communities to unite and have compassion for one another. 

Download PDF of the pocketbook messaging here

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